A video from a US Navy training tutorial on pronouns and inclusivity has gone viral, to the delight of online trolls everywhere. It was immediately seized on by conservative outlets, who used it to stoke readers’ fears about a US Navy and military inclusive to all regardless of gender, sexual orientation or pronouns.
Right-wing sites such as TownHall jumped at the opportunity to laugh at the – admittedly poorly produced – video, leaving many well-meaning netizens with no way to fact-check what they were reading.
So, is the viral US Navy pronouns video real? Who are Jony and Conchy, the hosts of this Nineties fever dream of a tutorial? Let’s find out.
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Watch the viral US Navy Pride video
The viral video is ostensibly Pride-themed, opening on a Nineties-style newsroom decorated in rainbow colours. Our hosts, Jony and Conchy, are wearing bright colours against a backdrop of posters illustrating an inclusive range of pronouns and their uses.
So far, so funky.
“Using the right pronouns is a really simple way to affirm someone’s identity,” Jony explains after introducing himself and his pronouns (he/him). “It is a signal of acceptance and respect,” he adds.
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The video explains how important it is to use inclusive language so everyone can feel safe, accepted and appreciated. For example, a way of doing that would be to say “hey, everyone” instead of “hey, guys”, the hosts explain. They also suggest sailors and other US Navy staff could add their pronouns to emails so others could join in too.
Conchy explains people can lead with their own pronouns and wait for others to share too. If they don’t, that’s fine too as some people may still be in the process of figuring things out for themselves. The video also gives sailors helpful tips on what to do if they misgender a co-worker.
“Accept the correction and just move on. It’s not the end of the world,” Conchy adds.
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Is this US Navy pronoun video real?
Yes, the viral US Navy pronoun video is real and it’s part of a wider initiative to promote diversity and inclusion among naval staff. This all started in 2021 with the founding of the NAVSEA Inclusion and Engagement Council. The first in a series of tutorials was Pronouns Are Important with Jony Rozon, which was published on its Wiki in 2021.
Other videos and materials that are part of this initiative include mentoring, code-switching, leading with authenticity and lifting others. These are all in various stages of production, according to the same statement.
The viral pronoun video that captivated right-wing media coincides with Pride Month and seems to at least have the best intentions at heart. While production values seem lacking – the set can best be described as “Nineties puppet show sans puppet” and the script had some rather patronising language in places – this could be explained by the US Navy’s relative inexperience in creating diversity tutorials.
Historically, the US Navy has been far busier with other stuff, so it might take them a while to get hip to the latest video techniques. Additionally the hosts, Jony and Conchy, are full-time employees of the Naval Undersea Warfare Centre (NUWC) and kindly lent their time to NAVSEA.
Who are the pronoun video’s hosts, Jony and Conchy?
Jony Rozon is an engineer working for the NUWC.
According to his Instagram, Jony lives in Rhode Island and turned 30 in March 2022. When he’s not working as an engineer, he enjoys spending time in the great outdoors, hiking, mountaineering and running marathons.
Rozon’s co-host in the viral pronouns video, Conchita Vasquez, also works as an engineer at the NUWC. She doesn’t seem to have a social media presence.
The video was made by John Vannucci, who works as a video producer for the US Navy.
Twitter having a field day with US Navy’s Pride tutorial
The video went viral on social media, with reactions split between those who found it hilarious and others who saw it as an ominous sign of the times.